Veterans of Crisis, Shyne’s Survivors Swing into Action
Shyne San Diego enters day 22 of self quarantine for all team members as the day breaks with news of another rescue placed safely in a hotel, a young woman experiencing mental distress safely in a hospital, and letters clipped to the mailbox filled with emergency supplies ready to be shipped.
Here on the frontlines of human trafficking, Shyne San Diego was well positioned for the COVID-19 emergency regulation orders from the start. With central operations already running remotely, we held a community vision summit via Zoom on St. Patrick’s Day. Shyne is operated by a network of survivor advisors and leaders, all of whom have experienced economic disparity, freedom restrictions, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and a lack of resources. COVID-19 exacerbates these issues outwards into our communities, but gratefully, this team knew how to respond.
Cynthia Austin, the founder of Shyne San Diego, is an inaugural GATHER Fellow, who has spent the last two years nurturing asset-based community development measures locally. Shyne had in place emergency response protocols, needs assessments, coordination platforms, and the community connections necessary to mobilize their team within hours of the mandatory quarantine. The teams use Zoom regularly to train, meet and support each other, Voxer to coordinate on the ground efforts, and shared Google Drive to track impact. Monitoring community impact is a critical step in their operations. In three weeks, trends have emerged. They are seeing very quickly an increase in needs for mental health support, work options from home, rent, cell phones, internet and basic home supplies.
In response, Shyne San Diego partnered with survivor-owned nonprofit Victory Garden Sanctuary to launch the first Survivor Advised COVID-19 Fund. Shyne’s innovative, bold and candid reputation has gotten them the attention of the California District Attorney’s Association, Civilization Research Initiative, and community volunteer organizations. Cynthia and her team of survivor advisors are assisting with research, funding solutions, survivor-led outreach, social media awareness campaigns, equipment for hospitals, and economic strategies to weather the months ahead.
COVID-19 impact on our global community is profound and swift. Each of us have a role in minimizing the impact of COVID-19 in our communities. Resiliency is an attribute survivors of exploitation possess that’s extremely valuable in overcoming difficult times. Their ability to balance tragedy with action is crucial for making quick decisions within organizations, families, communities and personal lives. Cynthia asked her team, “What is your personal responsibility with responding to this crisis?” She then told them that one’s “respond-ability” is now measured by four areas: (1) able (2) necessary (3) practical (4) meaningful. You can do the same. Let’s unite the fight against COVID-19 as a community of care.
Shyne San Diego
Women’s Grassroots Leadership & Professional Development
“Ending exploitation by building a network of survivor owned & operated businesses.”